Ready to go vegan? Not sure where to begin? Well, this is a common problem. It’s intimidating, especially when you see all these pretty Instagram accounts filled with vegan food.
You might ask “what’s that?” or “wait, is everything they eat just… organic?” You might question what we use for cheese, or eggs, or what vegan chicken is actually made of.
It’s a learning curve.
But it doesn’t have to be hard. I’ve broken it down into 10 logical steps that I followed when I transitioned to a vegan lifestyle. These steps helped me take things one step at a time, and never feel overwhelmed.
1) Go Vegetarian First
Seriously, take it from someone who went basically her entire life eating meat: go vegetarian first. This means no beef, no pork and no chicken. You can still eat fish at this point, the reason being that you’ll find yourself having to rely on something for about a week or two.
After you’re comfortable with that, try out some vegan chicken. I personally love Gardien Seven Grain Crispy Tenders. They’re small, and a serving is only 2 pieces, but you’ll find that as time goes on, that’s more than enough.
Meat and meat substitutes shouldn’t be the focus of the meal, they should be the side. Take an Eastern approach to it. In the healthiest parts of the world, the tiniest piece of meat is divided up for a family of 8 people. Grains and vegetables are the focus. In America, we do that backwards, and as a result, obesity has run rampant.
2) Make a List of the Things You Don’t Want to Give Up
By the time you’re accustomed to not eating meat, you’ll find that you cling onto something else. No, not fish anymore, but dairy. Products using milk, everything from cheese to yogurt, contains casein, which makes you want to eat more and more. It’s got an effect on your brain like heroine.
So, make a list. Some things I didn’t want to give up were cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk for baking. I never enjoyed drinking milk straight, nor did I eat cereal, so that wasn’t a factor for me. But everyone is different. Make a list of what’s holding you back from going vegan right now.
3) Do Some Research
Now that you have a list of the things you’re not ready to give up, look for substitutes. In my case, I needed a milk substitute because I love baking. I couldn’t drink soy milk, because it makes my stomach feel like I got donkey kicked. And almond milk didn’t sound exactly appetizing to me. But I love coconut milk, and using it the rest of my life sounds perfectly fine to me.
Another substitute I desperately needed was butter, and I’ve found Earth Balance to be tasty, tasty.
Same goes for cheese. I use Daiya, and they’re delicious, but I am unsure about the way it melts, to be honest. I want that stringiness from cheese. I really do miss that. But Daiya tends to kind of…. melt and become a spread, of sorts. It’s delicious in its own way, but I am personally going to keep searching for a better alternative, if I can.
4) Follow The Right Vegan Accounts
Once you have more of an idea of what you will be eating when you go 100% vegan, it’s time to get some inspiration. Think of it like getting your feet wet. In order to understand what it is to be a vegan, in order to get a better idea of what you can eat, it’s smart to follow other vegans on social media.
Some of my personal favorites are:
5) Inform Yourself Through Blogs & Books
But being a vegan isn’t just about avoiding meat and animal products. It’s about understanding the impact of the meat industry on the earth. It’s about animal rights, global warming, and social rights, such as the fact that we have enough food to feed everyone, but most of our grain is being used to feed livestock instead.
6) Try Out Some Vegan Recipes At Home
By this step, you’re way more informed. You know what the benefits of being a vegan are, and you have a firm grasp of what you can and can’t eat. Now it’s time to dig into recipes!
Try making some essentials that new vegans miss, like bread, desserts, easy mug cakes and comforting foods like soups and chili.
7) Watch The Right Documentaries
Along with reading the right books and blogs, go ahead and watch some documentaries. Netflix has a surprising selection of them, actually. Watch these while eating tasty vegan treats you made in your own kitchen:
- Forks Over Knives
- What The Health
- Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
8) Pay Attention To Food Prices Everywhere
There is a stigma that being a vegan is expensive. So, here’s what I did:
- I went to my local Walmart where I always buy food, and bought whatever vegan items I could find.
- Then I went to Roots Organic Market, a Maryland version of Whole Foods. We also have Whole Foods here, but hey, Roots is closer.
- At Roots, I bought two items I absolutely couldn’t find at Walmart: Vegennaise and non-dairy cheese.
- Then after seeing I spent $10 there, I said “no, thanks,” and began ordering specialized vegan food online. Thrive Market has an amazing selection, and if you sign up now, you get a free maple syrup. Amazon has some items as well, but they tend to be overpriced. Target is also a good resource, as they have a special section of natural shampoos and conditioners. Even body wash. Not so much food though, the vegetables and fruits are way overpriced.
These days, I shop at Walmart for most everything, get my shampoo and beauty items from Target, and buy special stuff, like vegan cheese, online.
9) Ask Questions
Once you have a grasp on what going vegan entails, it’s time to answer any last burning questions. Ask people online in forums, ask me, or comment on people’s Instagram pictures. Ask, ask, ask.
Only this way will you get insider tips and information that might take you longer to research online.
10) Take The Plunge
Then it’s finally time! You’ve done your research, experimented with recipes, and even paid attention to prices. Good job!
Remember, being a vegan takes patience. You’ll be learning for a long time. The learning may never even stop. Soon, you’ll be experimenting with food, trying things you never thought you would, and getting interested in books and movies you wouldn’t have just a matter of a year ago.
Best of luck.